You Can See the Signpost up Ahead, Next Stop Post 500

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Yes, I did crib some of the intro from the Twilight Zone. I also used a bit of poetic license on the post 500. I posted my 495th blog post today, despite being up all night with some sort of mysterious tummy ailment, that I don’t even want to talk about or think about.

But as I posted number 495, I had a thought: “What should I blog about for my 500th post?” I feel like such a momentous occasion should not consist of my usual blog post blathering. I am probably blowing the significance of this event wildly out of proportion to its actual importance. (Wow that sounded impressive didn’t it?)

Based on my usual practise of submitting 2.5 posts per day, I don’t have a lot of time before the magic 500 is reached. My “normal” practise (as if anything in my life could be referred to as normal at this point in time) is to watch a film, or to re-visit a film watched; or to read a book, etc, etc etc… Luckily for me, my blog does not just talk about film.

Because I am predominantly lazy, I choose not to manifest multiple blogs that I can upload posts to on varying subjects. I sort of liken myself to the cook who likes to prepare everything in the same pot. There is less to clean up and it keeps the pot choices to a minimum. So despite the title of my blog (and just in case you’ve found yourself here by accident, it’s called MikesFilmTalk only because I did not know that I could put spaces between the blog title, NOOB!) I write about a lot of other things besides film.

But I am, as usual, digressing; as I sit here looking out at the, finally, melting snow and listen to my tummy growling and rumbling, memories of last night, I am trying to figure out if I do indeed need to do anything special about my 500th post.

Should I just post as usual but include some sort of meme that has fireworks or some cute furry frolicking animal on it?

Should I include a picture of me holding a sign that says, “Will blog for money?”

I really don’t have any idea of what I should do, if anything, on my big 5-0-0. So, I thought, why not open it up for discussion?

Do any of you have an idea of what I should do? All suggestions will be considered (apart from sit down and shut up ya old fart) and I’ll try to pick the one that seems most appropriate. Maybe you liked my Arkansas Razorback stories and would like to see another one. I could also write about another “event” in my past…

But really, as you can no doubt tell by the extreme shortness of this post, I haven’t got a clue.

So, answers on a postcard please; just kidding, if you want to tell me what you think I should post for my 500th let me know via the comments. *ruder ideas should probably be submitted via my email, thereby making it easier for me and my daughter to take the piss out of the sender at our leisure*

If I don’t hear anything I will still do my 500th post, so lack of participation will not have the desired result of no post.

All kidding aside, I have had fun doing this and meeting so many special people (and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way). Folks who have made me laugh, think and smile a lot. Folks who have taken the time to support my little old blog and through so doing have helped me to work my way through a pretty damned difficult patch in my life.

Thank you all, who follow, read and take the time to comment or like my posts. You make my day!

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AN ARKANSAS RAZORBACK IN QUEEN ELIZABETH COUNTRY 7

After I’d lived in the shared house about six months, Ralph had a female friend who was flying in to visit him. He’d never been to Stansted Airport so I said I would help him navigate his way there. The night before we both hit the hay early because we would be leaving at about 0630 in the morning. I drifted right off after double checking my alarm clock to make sure that I had set it right.

BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! I fell out of bed as the last of the heavy ‘bangs‘ on my door faded. I leapt up and ran to my bedroom door trying to put my trousers on as I went. With one trouser leg on and the other limply dragging behind me, I flung open the door. I had overslept, I just knew it. The words of apology that were forming on my lips died before I could utter them.

The kitchen, which was outside my bedroom, was silent and dark. I paused for a split second to put my other leg in my trousers. I rushed through the house to find Ralph and tell him that I’d be ready in a quick minute. I went all the way upstairs and his bedroom door was shut and the light was off. Puzzled, I went back down to my room and looked at the alarm clock.

0300.

I was completely stumped. The ‘banging’ had been real, I’d heard it still resonating through the house while I trying to put my trousers on. I looked thoughtfully at my ‘outside’ bedroom door. I decided that perhaps a drunken idiot and kicked my door for a laugh.

I stood in front of the door and after I put my boots on I kicked the living hell out of it. Try as I might (and with several different implements as well) I could not get the loud BAM that had disrupted my slumber. The most I could get from the bolted shut door was a dull, heavy sounding thud. I knew I hadn’t imagined it I’d actually woken up after the first two bangs. I had been on a Rapid Deployment Team when I’d first joined the Air Force and I was used to waking up at the first noise.

I then remembered the ghostly footsteps and the rocking bit of leather on Ralph’s recliner and I got spooked. I turned on every light in my bedroom as a sort of talisman that would ward off any mischievous spirits. I finally drifted off to sleep in a blaze of light at about half-past five.

Ralph did come and knocked on my bedroom door around 0615 and I startled him by opening the door before his fist could connect with the door the second time. I told him about my experience in the wee hours of the night and he then helped me conduct a few experiments on banging the doors the wall and even smacking the hell out of the kitchen table.

Nothing we did could replicate those loud bangs that had resounded through the house at three in the morning.

Ralph confided in me later that he didn’t like walking through the house without having a light on. I’d noticed that he turned on every light in the house when he walked through each room. As he was hardly there, I thought it was because he couldn’t remember where the furniture was. No, it turned out that the house, “Give’s me the hinks.” Whatever that meant.

I had moved out and was living in Cambridge and when I went to work one day Ralph approached me excitedly. He had a new girlfriend. Her name was Sarah and I’d met her quite a few times.

“Dude! The house is haunted!”

“No shit.”

“Yeah man. We had a medium out and everything. After you left the shit got worse.”

“Maybe it missed me.”

He laughed, “Yeah that must be it.”

I asked him what had happened and over lunch he told me. It turned out that his new girl had something touch her on the neck while the two of them were watching telly in the sitting room. It also go to the point that when she went up the stairs something would brush past her as if someone was trying to go around her on the stairs. After a month things began to escalate. Every time Sarah would go down the stairs she could feel someone breathing on the back of her neck. She ignored it, thinking that after awhile it would stop.

It didn’t.

One night as she and Ralph hurried to get ready for a party she went down the stairs to touch up her make-up. Halfway down the stairs someone pushed her hard from behind. She fell down the last six steps and badly hurt her ankle. Furious, she hobbled back up the stairs to yell at Ralph only to find he wasn’t there. He’d been in the kitchen the whole time.

The straw that broke the camels back was when one week later and she was going down the same stairs. One of the hall lights had burnt out and Ralph had not replaced the bulb yet. This made the stairway gloomier than ever. As Sarah made her way cautiously down the stairs a face suddenly appeared in front of her and pushed right up into her face. Her shrieks brought Ralph running from his bedroom thinking that she had fallen down the stairs again.

Ralph told me that all he could see was a bit of ‘darker’ air in front of Sarah, but no face. Sarah then gave Ralph an ultimatum. Either get the house looked at by somebody who knew about these things or it would be a very cold day in Hell before she ever stepped foot in the house again.

Ralph called a medium the next day.

She came out and did a “reading” of the house. She then informed Ralph that he did indeed have an unwanted guest in his house. She explained to him that the house had been a coach house in the early days and that one of the ‘footmen’ was still attached to the house. Ralph told her about the ghostly footsteps and the swinging leather throw. He also told her about the bangs in the night. She explained that because we hadn’t really reacted the spirit had calmed down.

Unfortunately when Sarah turned up, the spirit decided he quite fancied her. When she ‘rebuffed’ him he got angry. According to her he was still angry and very jealous of Ralph.

He got the house ‘cleansed’ the very next day and the romantic footman was never heard from again.

An Arkansas Razorback in Queen Elizabeth Country 6

A new arrival in the unit asked me if I was interested in sharing a house with him in a small Suffolk village. He’d rented the house and it was large and had about four bedrooms in it. I went out to the village of Swaffham Prior and had a look at the place.

For starters it was excellently placed in the village as it was right across the street from the village Pub. Don’t get the wrong idea. I liked my drink as much as the next person, but that wasn’t why I was so pleased with the proximity of the Pub.

The Red Lion

Pub’s were, at that time anyway, a meeting place for the village. Through the Pub, you met people, found out what was happening around the area and who was who in the village. That and if the Pub was close enough, you could drink a skin-full of booze and just stagger home.

The house itself was old. It had been a coach house in the olden days. (I cannot for the life of me remember when the house was originally built, but the coach house bit is a dead give away for how old it actually was) It was long, much longer than than the Google earth picture above. And when I lived there with Ralph, it was white.

On the right hand side of the house as you faced it from the street was an agate gravel drive that branched off to the left and led you to the back door. The front door was used only once when I lived there and that was when the local vicar stopped by to welcome us to the village.

When you entered the back door you would find the back hall, bathroom, stairs to the first floor (that’s second floor to denizens of the US) and a smaller hall to the rest of the house.

Nestled in between the drive and the back door path was our ‘sitting’ room. It had a two seater settee, Ralph’s leather recliner, a fireplace and the television. The window faced the front of the Pub across the street.

When you walked out of the ‘sitting room’ you crossed the small hallway and walked past the front door to the huge dining room. If you continued you walked through the kitchen (a perfect square of a room) and on the other side of the kitchen was my massive bedroom. That plus a utility room that housed our washer and dryer made up the ground floor of the house.

My bedroom featured the only other door that opened onto the high street. I say opened, but that is a bit of a misnomer. The massive four inch wide door was sealed shut and could not be opened at all.

The first floor of the house was comprised entirely of bedrooms. The one opposite the Pub was our ‘cold’ store. In the winter we left a window cracked and it kept most of our perishable foodstuff nice and cool.

The first couple of months that Ralph and I lived there we would occasionally both watch the telly in the sitting room. When anyone walked up the gravel drive and the path to our door you could hear them as clearly as if the path were in the room with us. One night we sat there watching the news when, during a break between stories, the volume lowered enough for us to hear someone walking up the drive.

“Looks like we have a visitor.” Ralph said with a smile.

He turned down the volume on the TV. We both sat grinning like a couple of idiots as we listened to the footsteps progress from the side of the house to the back door. The gravelly steps stopped at our back door and waited we for the knock.

Silence permeated the air. No knock. Nothing. We sat there is silence and waited for the footsteps to start their journey back to the street. Still, nothing.

Finally, we couldn’t take the suspense any longer. We both got up and jogged to the back door. Ralph flung open the door with a loud and cheery, “Hi!”

There was no one there.

We had quite a giggle about this turn of events and made jokes about ghosts and possible pranksters having a laugh at the ‘new boys’ in the village. As we walked back into the sitting room we watched the fancy leather throw on the back of Ralph’s recliner start swinging back and forth.

Ralph looked at me with one eyebrow up and said, “The fireplace must be open. I’ll close the draft.” He walked over to the fireplace and knelt down to close the flue. He suddenly stopped and looked up the chimney. He looked back over his shoulder at me.

“Damn thing’s closed already.”

As he stood up, the throw began to sway again. Ralph walked over to it and held his hand by the throw. “Nothing.” He moved his hand fractionally. “Not a breath of air.” We both shrugged and sat back down to finish watching the news.

This occurrence would be a regular event at the house. We used to make jokes about our mysterious sitting room ghost and our invisible house guest who was too shy to knock on the back door.

It was only after we had lived there for about six months that the activity increased and soon shifted it’s focus on to Ralph’s new girlfriend. But that was after it decided to pick on me and after I had moved out of the house and  into  a flat with my new fiancée .

My bedroom and it’s inoperable door.

An Arkansas Razorback in Queen Elizabeth Country 5

Before I moved to the ‘haunted’ house and after I had just moved off the base, I had to hitch-hike to and from the base. Daily rides to work were easy. Most of the folks I worked with drove right past my flat on the way to work, it was an easy thing for them to pull over and pick me up.

Weekends and ‘off-duty hours’ were a different matter entirely.

The main reason I went to the base on weekends was to do laundry initially and later to work with an amateur dramatics society on the base. The theatrical attendance was also quite easy to do because lots of the society members again drove right past my flat, or I could catch them on the road by ‘thumbing it.’

I myself had stopped picking up hitchhikers years ago, while I was still married to my first wife. I’d had a rather alarming episode with a long-haired man and a knife that resulted in me pulling a pistol and throwing him out of my pick-up truck in the pouring rain. After that little heart-stopping event, I swore to never pick up a hitchhiker again.

But my whole first year in England, I did not own a car. I had to, like a male version of Blanche DuBois, rely on the kindness of strangers. This did not always work. I remember quite a few times where, laden with a mobility bag full of dirty clothes, I had to walk the five mile stretch in the pouring rain. I usually got lucky once I got to the Laundromat on base, I could just about always find a ride back.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t use the ‘local’ Laundromat in the village, it is because there wasn’t one.

But, I had enough kind people stop and give an airman a lift, especially easy if you were in uniform, that I wanted to return the kindness shown me by picking up folks who were having to ride their thumb.

I did eventually have to stop though. We were getting briefings about a group of young women who were ‘hitching’ and when they got picked up by a lone male, would accuse him of touching them up. We were warned that if we didn’t know the individual who had their thumb out, to pass them by.

I decided that if the hitcher was in uniform that I would take my chances. That decision led to two of the strangest car rides I’d had since being in the United Kingdom and my cessation of giving strangers a ride.

The first ‘girl’ I stopped for was in uniform. At first glance she looked like she was in the USAF green fatigues that most airmen wear daily. She was of medium height and had very tightly curled hair. She sort of looked like a grown-up Shirley Temple but with reddish brown hair.

It was pelting down rain that stung your skin when it hit and I felt bad about anyone having to endure that for the five mile walk from the base to the village.

When she got in, she extended a sopping wet hand and introduced herself. “I’m Julie,” she said, “Thanks for stopping.”

I said my name was Mike and that I was only going as far as the village. She stated that would be fine as she was trying to track down her fiancée who was supposed to be in one of the Pubs there. Then absolute silence for the remainder of the five miles.

I stopped by the first Pub that was in the village square and let her out, as she got out of the car she leaned back in and again thanked me for the ride. She paused for a moment and them asked, “Do you live in the village?”

I said, ” Yes, as a matter of fact I do. Why?”

She leaned into the car a bit further. “You don’t know Staff Sargent Thompson do you?” Her eyes had taken on a glittery look that made her look a bit mad.

“No-o-o-o. I don’t think I do.”

She reached into a pocket of her uniform that I realised belatedly was not a USAF fatigue uniform at all. It was Israeli. I found this out when she pulled a knife out of her pocket and sat back down in the car.

“Are you sure? I know how you Air Force bastards back each other up. Now think hard, Staff Sargent Thompson, he’s about your age with black hair, he just got back from Israel where he was on a ‘mini’ Kibbutz. We met there and he told me he was stationed here.” She paused for a moment. “He’s got a huge cock. He said his nickname was Horse.”

I sat stunned and just looked at her for a minute. I finally lied and said that I’d only just arrived in country and that she’d be better off checking with someone who had been here longer.

Running her finger along the knife’s blade, she looked intently at my face, apparently trying to decide if I was lying or not. After what seemed like an eternity, she nodded and started to again leave my car. As she went to close my passenger door, I stomped on the gas pedal and left rubber for at least six yards on the road.

When I got home I decided that I wouldn’t be going out that night in case I bumped into her in my local. I didn’t pick up another hitchhiker for ages after that.

Then on Independence day, I was driving past the market square when a young very pretty black girl flagged me down. I stopped when I saw she was in green fatigues and I saw she was an Airman First Class by the two stripes on the arms of her uniform shirt.

Airman first class insignia

She ran up to the drivers side and gave me a big smile. “Hey! You stationed at Mildenhall or Lakenheath?”

“Mildenhall.”

She pouted and asked, “You wouldn’t be going to the Fourth of July party at Lakenheath would you?” Realising that this gorgeous creature was asking in a very round about way if I’d give her a lift, I said yes.

“Great! Wait here for a minute, will you?”

Before I could answer she went sailing into a shop. In about a minute she came back out with a plastic bag. The girl was, if nothing else, prompt. She hopped into the passenger seat of my car and said, “I just had to buy a clean shirt. My uniform shirt is all sweaty, I had a late night last night. You know what I mean?”

Before I could say a word she’d whipped her uniform top off and revealed that she did’t wear a bra. She also had nothing to be embarrassed about in the breast department. She was easily a 36 C and very perky with it. She then sat there topless and proceeded to rummage through her bag.

I grabbed her discarded top and threw it at her. “Quick! Put that back on! You can’t get changed here!” My eyes were darting all around the immediate area looking for my girlfriend and the police.

Pouting again she put the uniform top back on and did up one button. “Well where can I change? I don’t want to go to the party smelling like this.”

Thinking quickly I said, “Look, my flat is right around the corner, I can wait while you get changed in the bathroom. I’ll even leave the flat door open so you won’t feel uncomfortable.”

This proved to be acceptable and we made our way to my flat. I didn’t have to bother about showing her where the bathroom was or leaving the door of the flat open. The second she went through my door, the uniform top was whipped off and she started rummaging through that bag again.

She had about five different blouses in the bag and she kept putting on one and looking in the tiny mirror over my bedroom sink.

She’d then whip that top off and try on another one. About halfway through, she stopped and turned to look at me. Her breasts were still very perky and I didn’t know what to do with my eyes.

“You aren’t in a hurry are you?” She asked.

My face flaming and blood rushing into places it had no place being, I answered with strangled no. Sweat was streaming down my overly hot face and I just knew that my girlfriend was going to walk in at any minute. When the girl came over to have me light her cigarette, I started believing that this was some kind of test.

I decided that my girlfriend had set me up to see how I’d react to this half naked vixen in front of me. After cupping my hands with hers while I lit her cigarette, she kept hold of my hands and dragging deep on the now lit smoke, she looked into my face. “Are you sure, you don’t have to be anyplace…special?”

My nerve broke then and I pulled my hands back and started for the door. “Damn! I just remembered I have to meet somebody at the party and I think I’m late. We’d better get going.”

I stood just outside the door and waited while she finally decided on what blouse she liked best. Practically pushing her to my car, I set the world record for the shortest drive possible to RAF Lakenheath. When I stopped the car at the area set aside for the Independence Day celebrations I said, “Go on and get out, I’ll just park the car and I’ll join you after.”

“Okay Honey.” She leaned over the gear shift and kissed me on the mouth. She tasted of cigarette smoke and bubble gum. She also smelt ever so faintly of marijuana. “I’ll see you in a little bit.”

I drove off and didn’t go back to the festivities.

Later that night my girlfriend came over and she never even asked me if I’d done anything special that day. I decided two things after that nerve wrecking experience with the topless tootsie.

I decided that my girlfriend had not been trying to ‘set me up’ and that it would be a cold day in hell before I ever picked up another hitchhiker.

An Arkansas Razorback in Queen Elizabeth Country 4

The traditional "running hog" image ...
Arkansas Razorback

Before I moved out of my now haunted flat, I was sent to Ramstein Air Base in Germany aka USAFE Headquarters for a week. I’ll have to write another blog post or two about an Arkansas Razorback in Europe, I guess.

I was glad to get back. In spite of the fact that Ramstein AB was huge and boasted a Burger King, I didn’t take to it very much. Part of the tour of the base when we arrived was showing us the blown-up Headquarters building that had been car-bombed by a German terrorist group. So although Germany was beautiful, it was also a place where you could get blown-up while doing your day-to-day ‘peace-time’ duties.

It left an impression all right.

The first person I bumped into when I got back to the village was Frank my toilet sharing buddy. As I walked up to my front door, he sat in the little courtyard outside our adjourning flats, barbecuing a steak for a young lady in high heels and blue-jean shorts.

He had a fixed grin on his face and he greeted me effusively.

“Hey, Holmes! When did you get back?” This was said through gritted teeth as he talked through his fixed grin.

I stopped and looked at Frank.

“What?” I started laughing, “I got back today. Why are you talking like that? Are you drunk?”

Frank shook his head. “No, Holmes. I got my jaw broke by  a fucking midget! My jaws wired shut.”

I laid my duffel bag down and sat on it.

“Dude, what happened?”

“Well, Holmes, I was in the pub and it was close to closing time. Tom was serving last orders when these three punks came in.”

Frank took a drink out of his beer and turned the steak over.

“They started giving Tom a hard time and I was the only one left in the pub, man. The midget was talking big and threatening Tom. So I stood up and got involved.”

“What happened?”

“Well, you know I’ve been taking Karate lessons, right?”

I nodded. Frank took the steak off the grill and after putting it on a plate handed it to the girl. “Here you are darlin’ put your mouth around that. Why don’t you check and see if your boyfriend wants one. I’ll be glad to put one on for him.”

The girl giggled and said okay and trotted obediently into the hall leading to Frank’s flat. I looked a Frank, stunned. “Isn’t she one of your ‘massage’ girls?”

Frank nodded.

“And she brought her boyfriend?”

“Yeah, Holmes. He’s cool with it. He brings her over on his motorbike..”

I was very surprised, I mean, these girls didn’t give massages, if you get my meaning. The idea that the girl’s boyfriend would tag along and have a steak dinner with his girlfriend’s client was beyond my comprehension. She didn’t come back out, so I can only assume that her boyfriend had some scruples that precluded eating a steak from clients. Either that or he was sharing hers.

Frank handed me a beer and continued his story.

“Well I’m just about to get my black belt, Holmes, so I figured I could take care of these little chumps, no problem.”

“So what happened.”

“The littlest dude in the group, the midget, hops up and punches me.” He paused, “Once.” Frank rubbed his hand over his jaw. “Little fucker knocked me out and broke my jaw,” He pointed to first one side of his jaw and then the other, “Twice.”

I bent over double with laughter. Frank stood glaring at me for a minute and then started braying laughter through his wired up jaw.

Taking a swig of beer, Frank stopped laughing and glared off into the distance.

“Man I’m gonna sue that son-of-a-bitch instructor. Or at least get my money back.” Shaking his head he started back into his flat muttering, “One punch, Holmes, one fuckin’ punch.”

I went into my flat then, only to discover that my electric meter had run out of money the week I was gone and everything in my little refrigerator had spoiled.